Giant Bomb Review41 Comments
South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! Review4
by Brad Shoemaker on
Almost in spite of itself, this is both a solid tower defense game and a good piece of fan service for South Park fans.
A tower defense game based on South Park sounds like it could be a predictable, lazy product, don't you think? Take a well established and arguably overused gameplay blueprint and use it to slap a licensed property onto Xbox Live Arcade, then call it a day. I guess it's surprising, then, that the aptly titled South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! doesn't feel shoddy or half-baked after all. It's both a fully competent tower defense game and, despite a lack of any new animation, a good vehicle for South Park's ridiculous brand of humor as well.
In a way, Xbox Live Arcade sort of has its own version of PixelJunk Monsters now. That game extended the standard tower defense concept by turning your abstract cursor--the thing you use to determine where you build different sorts of towers--into an actual character. But all that character could really do was pick up money dropped from enemies, which you then spent on more towers. This South Park game further extends that concept by giving you not one but four onscreen characters who can build towers, and it also gives those characters an attack.
Guess who those initial four characters are? Right--Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman, all of whom can throw snowballs at enemies. You can also charge up the snowballs to make them yellow (and more powerful), and each character has a special attack that damages all the enemies onscreen, spawns a bunch of bonus money, amps your attack power, and so on. There are a ton of other playable characters you can unlock from the series too, from Jimmy and Clyde to Bebe and, yeah, Timmy. They all have their own tasteless specials that involve things like crutches and colostomy bags. (Yep, definitely South Park.) The characters are all different enough from each other in terms of speed, power, special abilities, and voiceovers to make them all at least worth messing around with.
South Park is generally playable by yourself, but you have to switch between the characters on the fly, which gets almost unreasonably fast-paced and difficult on the normal setting by the end of the game's 11 normal levels. The best way to play it is with two (or three or four) people each controlling different characters, which lets each character build towers, collect coins, and throw snowballs independently. Characters who aren't currently selected will at least throw snowballs on their own, so you can use them as mobile towers, but they won't move themselves out of danger or charge their snowballs up. The easy setting is much more forgiving, however, and it won't affect your achievements or completion of the game. So if you're having trouble, there's no shame in admitting defeat and dropping the difficulty level.
Mechanically, this is tower defense through and through. The enemies run the gamut of antagonist groups from the series, including terrorists, sixth graders, hippies, homeless people, Scott Tenorman, the dreaded Christmas critters, and, yes, crab people. (Craaaab people, craaaab people.) As per the genre's standards, each is weak to different kinds of towers, which include baseball launchers, and the Pee-tron, a mounted contraption that sprays cat urine. I hear that stuff can get you high. You can build walls out of snow to create lanes for the enemies to wander through, exposing them to your towers for longer. That's what this genre is all about, and South Park does a perfectly adequate job of it.
Given the extremely short production time on episodes of South Park, it's a little disappointing there's no new animation in this game. But there's a huge amount of original voiceover for all of the characters, and the story is told with a graphic novel style of still frames that gets the job done pretty well, especially with all of the new dialogue. The ridiculous story, which basically just moves you from one familiar South Park location to the next, affords the appearance of some peripheral series favorites like Jimbo and the owner of City Wok, who has erected a Great City Wall around town. (Listening to him scream frantically about defending his City Wall had me in stitches, but maybe I'm just easily amused.) It's all funny, ludicrous stuff that makes you assume Trey Parker must have had a hand in the story, because it feels authentic. (He appears to have only been an executive producer, though.) You can at least unlock a ton of video clips of some of the show's finer moments, and there's plenty of the series' trademark humor all over this game, even if there isn't any new footage to look at.
Realistically, you'd need to be a fan of either South Park or tower defense to get the most out of this game. If you've got an interest in either subject--or, ideally, both--there are much worse ways to spend 800 points on Xbox Live Arcade.